Journal Article

Forty years on: the effect of deprivation on growth in two Newcastle birth cohorts

Charlotte M Wright and Louise Parker

in International Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of International Epidemiological Association

Volume 33, issue 1, pages 147-152
Published in print February 2004 | ISSN: 0300-5771
Published online February 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3685 | DOI:
Forty years on: the effect of deprivation on growth in two Newcastle birth cohorts

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Background This study used two prospective birth cohort studies from the same city to examine the extent to which deprivation gradients for height and weight have changed over 40 years.

Methods Participants were 954 (86%) full term members of the Thousand Families (TF) 1947 and 3145 (99.9%) members of the Growth and Development Study (GDS) 1987–1988 Newcastle birth cohorts with both deprivation and growth data. Weights were available at birth, 6 months, and 1 year; weight and height at 4 (GDS only), 9, and 13 years (TF only), and in adulthood (TF only). These were stratified by level of deprivation, measured by Registrar's General social class in 1947 and area-based Townsend scores in 1987.

Results Both cohorts had similar birth and infancy weights, but there was no gradient by deprivation level at birth or in infancy in the 1947 cohort, while the 1987 cohort showed a consistent gradient from birth onwards. Height had increased from the 1947 to the 1987 cohort, but both showed very similar deprivation gradients, equivalent to a 4-cm difference between the most and least affluent strata at age 9 years. Body mass index was similar for both cohorts and only showed a deprivation gradient in adulthood.

Conclusions We found no evidence of a changing influence of socioeconomic deprivation on growth in childhood, despite increases in mean height over a 40-year interval.

Keywords: Secular change; growth; birthweight; infancy; childhood; height socioeconomic deprivation

Journal Article.  3494 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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